Constitution of Guelphia
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Politics and government of Guelphia
The Constitution of Guelphia is the paramount legal entity establishing the independence of Guelphia, and sets down the powers and functions of the institutions of government. The modern Guelphian constitution consists of several documents, the most important is the Constitution of the Kingdom of Guelphia. Other documents of constitutional significance include various Letters Patent, Orders-in-Council, and unwritten conventions.
The present constitution of Guelphia is the third iteration of a written constitutional document.
Guelphia's first constitution had its origins in the proclamation that first formed the Kingdom, and came into force on the 18 February 1836. The origins of this Constitution can be found in the Guelphia Act, which had been passed by the British Parliament in 1834. The Act is considered to be first constitution of the nascent kingdom, and became law on the day Guelphia was established.
The first constitution contain provisions that enshrined the sanctity of the Crown as being above the political process, with the day to day administration of the kingdom to be carried out by the Executive Council. Assisting the council would be the Senate, which consisted of all freeborn settlers who had paid the special subscription fee of £500 before arriving in the colony. As per the developing constitutional convention, the King would be expected act on the advice of the Council, save in certain reserve matters revolving around the appointment and dismissal of ministers.
The Executive Council itself would consist of five members. This included the British Resident Commissioner and two appointees nominated by him. The Senate would nominate the other two members, one of whom would serve in the post of Chief Secretary. The Resident Commissioner was free to appoint ministers to any portfolio he chose, and whilst technically they were to serve at the pleasure of the Sovereign, in practice they were beholden instead to the Resident Commissioner.
The Resident Commissioner maintained control over all matters relating to defence and foreign affairs, in which he acted on the instructions of the Colonial Office in London. In 1836, Sir George Wheeler, the first Resident Commissioner made the following portfolio appointments:
|1||Sir George Wheeler||Resident Commissioner|
|2||John Lamberton||Chief Secretary|
|3||Ralph Deveraux||Lord Chancellor|
|4||Edward Casson||Lord Marshal of the Realm|
|5||Edward Irwin||Lord Treasurer of the Realm|
denotes Resident Commissioner appointee.
Whilst in theory the Resident Commissioner could appoint any of his ministers to any portfolio, in practice the Resident Commissioner would always appoint a Minister for Defence from one of his two personal appointees, a practice that endured until 1907.
The concept of responsible government did not yet apply, and therefore the Senate was powerless to act in anything but an advisory role to the Resident Commissioner. Once it had nominated its candidates to the Council, it could not recall or dismiss them from office, and they remained on the council until the Resident Commissioner dismissed them or they resigned.
|Constitution of Guelphia|
Constitution of Guelphia
|Text of the Constitution|
| Preamble · Schedule|
Chapters of the Constitution
I · II · III · IV · V · VI · VII
|Amendments to the Constitution|
| Constitutional Conventions
Guelphia, in the tradition of all Westminister democracies, operates with a number of unwritten rules and conventions. These conventions exist only due to tradition, symbolism and their support by all sides of politics, and can be changed by mutual agreement by all parties. They have no force in law, and cannot be contested in court if a convention is breached. Some of the major conventions include:
- The Sovereign will grant royal assent to any bill passed by parliament;
- The Sovereign will not participate in the political process unless there is an extreme circumstance that merits the use of reserve powers;
- The Sovereign will not make partisan speeches or state partisan opinions.
- One-quarter of members of the Cabinet shall be members of the Senate;
- The Cabinet Secretary shall also be Leader of the Government in the Senate;
- All Cabinet members shall be members of the Executive Council;
- The Prime Minister can hold office temporarily (less than ninety days) whilst not a member of the House of Assembly;
- All executive decisions are taken by a formal meeting of the Executive Council.
- A loss of supply requires either the resignation of the Prime Minister or a parliamentary dissolution;
- The Senate will not deny supply to the government unless that are extreme and compelling reasons for doing so;
- Peers shall not seek election to the House of Assembly;
- During a General Election, no major party shall put up an opponent against a Speaker of the House of Assembly seeking re-election.
References and notes